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Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the founder of the nation's financial system, the Federalist Party, the United States Coast Guard, and the New York Post newspaper. As the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton was the main author of the economic policies of George Washington's administration. He took the lead in the federal government's funding of the states' debts, as well as establishing the nation's first two de facto central banks, the Bank of North America and the First Bank of the United States, a system of tariffs, and friendly trade relations with Britain. His vision included a strong central government led by a vigorous executive branch, a strong commercial economy, government-controlled banks, support for manufacturing, and a strong military.

Hamilton was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis. He was orphaned as a child and taken in by a prosperous merchant. When he reached his teens, he was sent to New York to pursue his education. He took an early role in the militia as the American Revolutionary War began. In 1777, he became a senior aide to General Washington in running the new Continental Army. After the war, he was elected as a representative from New York to the Congress of the Confederation. He resigned to practice law and founded the Bank of New York before entering politics. Hamilton was a leader in seeking to replace the weak confederal government under the Articles of Confederation; he led the Annapolis Convention of 1786, which spurred Congress to call a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He helped ratify the Constitution by writing 51 of the 85 installments of The Federalist Papers, which are still used as one of the most important references for Constitutional interpretation.

Hamilton led the Treasury Department as a trusted member of President Washington's first Cabinet. Hamilton successfully argued that the implied powers of the Constitution provided the legal authority to fund the national debt, to assume states' debts, and to create the government-backed Bank of the United States (the First Bank of the United States). These programs were funded primarily by a tariff on imports, and later by a controversial whiskey tax. He opposed friendly relations with the French revolutionaries. Hamilton's views became the basis for the Federalist Party, which was opposed to the Democratic-Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In 1795, he returned to the practice of law in New York. He called for mobilization against the French First Republic in 1798–99 under President John Adams, and became Commanding General of the U.S. Army, which he reconstituted, modernized, and readied for war. The army did not see combat in the Quasi-War, and Hamilton was outraged by Adams' diplomatic approach to the crisis with France. His opposition to Adams' re-election helped cause the Federalist Party defeat in 1800. Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidency in the electoral college, and Hamilton helped to defeat Burr, whom he found unprincipled, and to elect Jefferson despite philosophical differences.

Hamilton continued his legal and business activities in New York City, and was active in ending the legality of the international slave trade. Vice President Burr ran for governor of New York State in 1804, and Hamilton campaigned against him as unworthy. Taking offense, Burr challenged him to a duel on July 11, 1804, in which Burr shot and mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the following day. Hamilton is generally regarded as an astute and intellectually brilliant politician and financier, if often impetuous. His ideas are credited with laying the foundation for American government and finance.

Alexander Hamilton Media

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map from "History of the republic of the United States of America, as traced in the writings of Alexander Hamilton and of his contemporaries"

map from "History of the republic of the United States of America, as ...

This image has been taken from scan 000287 from volume 02 of "History of the republic of the United States of America, as traced in the writings of Alexander Hamilton and of his contemporaries". The title and s... More

James Sharples - Alexander Hamilton, 18th century

James Sharples - Alexander Hamilton, 18th century

Attributed James Sharples (ca. 1751–1811)

To the unbiassed & independent electors of the State of New-York. Since our last address to you, a publication has appeared, signed by Mr. Alexander Hamilton, as chairman of a committee, said to have been appointed by a numerous meeting of the i

To the unbiassed & independent electors of the State of New-York. Sinc...

Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 111, Folder 16b.

Alexander Hamilton , May 10, 1790. "Abstract of duties which have accrued on the Tonnage of Foreign & Domestic vessels".

Alexander Hamilton , May 10, 1790. "Abstract of duties which have accr...

Transcripts, guides, and tools to help you use this collection may be found at http://www.loc.gov/collection/james-madison-papers/about-this-collection/.

Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox, July 12, 1793, Minutes Given to President on Armed Vessels
Jean Baptiste de Ternant to Alexander Hamilton, April 30, 1793. In French

Jean Baptiste de Ternant to Alexander Hamilton, April 30, 1793. In Fre...

Transcripts, guides, and tools to help you use this collection may be found at http://www.loc.gov/collection/james-madison-papers/about-this-collection/.

Alexander Hamilton, April 18, 1793, Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Affairs, in Thomas Jefferson's Hand

Alexander Hamilton, April 18, 1793, Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Aff...

Hamilton's Thoughts on Foreign Affairs, in Thomas Jefferson's Hand

Alexander Hamilton, 18th century

Alexander Hamilton, 18th century

Giuseppe Ceracchi (Italian, 1751–1802)

Principles and course of proceeding, with regard to the disposition of the monies borrowed abroad by virtue of the acts of the 4th and 12th of August, as to the point of authority. Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the Treasury. Philadelphia, Apr

Principles and course of proceeding, with regard to the disposition of...

Available also through the Library of Congress web site in two forms: as facsimile page images and as full text in SGML. Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 220, Folder 5a.

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